Business & Entrepreneurship

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Masonwabe Fuma, 27

Associate director and spokesperson
Africa Cooperatives Institute of South Africa

Masonwabe Fuma finds purpose in life by spreading his entrepreneurial spirit. “I wish to empower our people by assisting them to find ways and means to empower themselves,” he says. He believes that a valuable tool with which to introduce the previously excluded into the economy is through cooperatives: community-run businesses or enterprises. Fuma is an associate director and spokesperson for the Africa Cooperatives Institute of SA. The institute focuses on empowerment, and on providing training to develop community-based enterprises and non-profit companies that are sustainable and resilient. “When you train cooperatives, you create mobility — the sharing and organising of ideas,” says Fuma. “This then assists in positioning the African continent as a strong community enterprise sector.” Fuma is helping to establish AfriCo Online, an online store for South African cooperatives. When it launches later this year, it will have more than 150 local cooperatives on its database.

If doors are closed on your face, get in through the window — kick, scream, shout and negotiate if you have to.

Author - Andie Reeves
Frances MacMahon, 32

Frances MacMahon, 32

With a degree in architecture from the University of the Witwatersrand and a master’s in market research from the University of Pretoria, Frances MacMahon is the founder and chief executive of Meraki Research, a market research and consulting agency. She started the company five years ago amid much career uncertainty. She counts the leap of faith and determination it required as one of her proudest moments, and advises young people to follow their passions, as she did, to ensure they fulfil their potential and grow into the professionals they want to become. Through her company’s corporate social responsibility and partnerships with non-governmental organisations, MacMahon hopes to empower the youth through education and do her part to reduce the staggering youth unemployment rate in South Africa. Through this work, she hopes the youth can build successful and sustainable careers.

Mpho Mohaswa, 32

Mpho Mohaswa, 32

To maintain the authenticity of traditional ginger beer, chemical engineer Mpho Mohaswa founded Precious and Pearl Brands – a business that manufactures gemere (a non-alcoholic ginger beer concentrate) under the brand name Ghemere. Mohaswa’s business is rooted in tradition, family and ubuntu. She grew up watching her mother and grandmother working hard to perfect the taste of ginger beer, and uses this as inspiration to make Ghemere a household brand that can be enjoyed at any time. She strongly believes in giving back to the community and gives working-class people an opportunity to make extra income by selling her products. She adds: “A lot of people have had to take pay cuts because of Covid-19 and the money earned from selling our products has assisted them significantly. I am proud of the business we are building, the hope we have reignited and the jobs we continue to create.”

If you don’t stand up and go and make a difference and change the world, who is going to do it?

Zoë Mahopo, 34

Zoë Mahopo, 34

When Zoë Mahopo made the switch from journalism to public relations, the same success wasn’t certain. “In 2016, I was awarded the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Award for a feature that exposed the poor condition of school toilets in Gauteng township schools,” she says. Mahopo was inspired to start her own agency as South Africa entered lockdown, and cofounded The Brand Thread. “I have created content for brands like Foonda, an edu-tech company that assists young Africans to access bursaries and scholarships. I have worked on content for groundbreaking brands such as Dear Bella Sanitary Pads, Yellow Owl and Women in Physics in South Africa, among others,” she says. She encourages young storytellers to stay on their journeys, even if it’s not financially rewarding at the time. “The world does not move without people like us to help others tell their stories and communicate their messages effectively,” Mahopo says.

Gontse Nxumalo, 29

Gontse Nxumalo, 29

Taking considered steps towards entrepreneurship, Orlando Sneaker Care Technicians founder Gonste Nxumalo sought to create an income stream by offering a niche service cleaning and refurbishing sneakers in Orlando, Soweto. After matriculating in 2009, Nxumalo completed an accounting and bookkeeping diploma and business administration at both Boston City Campus and Business College, and participated in Absa’s Ready to Work small business programme. From something that he started from nothing to becoming a source of inspiration for people he grew up with, Nxumalo says the entrepreneurship journey taught him valuable business lessons. “My biggest mistake has to be getting into collaborations and partnerships without thinking through contractual agreements, which came back to bite me.” His main focus is to build a sustainable business that can contribute to the creative development of the country’s economy.

No limits are great enough to stop a dream from overcoming any obstacle

Nandisa Mpanza, 27

Nandisa Mpanza, 27

Nandisa Mpanza is a business owner and founder. Now the chief executive of her own company, Rock, she’s a farmer first and foremost. “I take part in the planning, researching, marketing and running of the business,” Mpanza says. Mpanza completed her degree in agriculture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2015. “I help create and sustain jobs for disadvantaged community members, helping with improving their livelihoods,” she says. Through the successes of her business, Mpanza now has greater appreciation for planning. “My biggest mistake must have been starting without a solid plan,” she says, despite the fact that she’s built a business that’s impacted many people’s lives. The support people give when they see potential came as a surprise to Mpanza, but she grew stubborn about her dreams, refusing to give in. “I want to see local products dominating the country’s commercial supply chain.”

Train your mind to stay positive and your body to find the willpower to overcome the challenges you will face in your journey to success.

Amogelang Kgaladi, 28

Amogelang Kgaladi, 28

One look at Amogelang Kgaladi’s qualifications, starting with a BSc in actuarial and financial mathematics (cum laude) from the University of Pretoria and culminating in a master of business administration from the University of the Witwatersrand, and it all adds up. A fellow of the Actuarial Society of South Africa and barely out of his mid-20s, Kgaladi’s meteoric rise has landed him the gig of chief risk officer at a division of First National Bank (FNB). Starting off as an actuary at Hannover Re and Ernst & Young, he was headhunted by FNB to set up the corporate actuarial function at the division he now leads. As the title suggests, he is charged with identifying, monitoring and mitigating the business’ risk, and ensuring risk-adjusted optimisation. Kgaladi is wary of falling into a blinkered drive to reach the next milestone, and emphasises the importance of enjoying each step of the journey.

Surround yourself with people who are like-minded, who are already where you want to be, or who are striving to be where you want to be — this makes your journey a little easier.

Mmakgotso Maphoto, 23

Mmakgotso Maphoto, 23

Mmakgotso Maphoto is studying towards a degree in communication and information science, but she’s already making moves with Leruo Magazine. Hiring two young people from her community to assist her with the magazine is something she is very proud of, and launching the magazine taught her the importance of listening to her heart. Maphoto says being noticed by The Tony Elumelu Foundation in Nigeria was a big surprise. The foundation accepted her into its business mentorship programme and she stands a chance of winning seed funding for her business. She says she’d like to see a South Africa where people are not limited by their circumstances. “I do not think that children from the same background as me don’t succeed in life because of laziness. I think it is because of the lack of information,” she says. She wants to use her magazine to give everyone a fair chance at success.

Yes, you will fail. That is part of the journey to success; don’t give in, and don’t give up.

Munozovepi Gwata, 24

Munozovepi Gwata, 24

Munozovepi Gwata’s goal is to achieve equitable and sustainable financial economic inclusion in South Africa. She founded Kukura Capital, a platform and community that uses financial literacy to empower people so they can make informed financial decisions. “Financial exclusion is a huge contributor to financial inequality, which generates several social and economic problems that stunt sustainable development within the country,” says Gwata. Merging coding and programming to create innovative applications to deliver financial literacy, Gwata was only a 19-year-old law student when she founded Kukura. She used her legal experience to develop a keen eye for the gaps and opportunities in the African market, which led to her working with the World Economic Forum, TED and the World Youth Forum. The candidate legal practitioner at Webber Wentzel says she’s “driven by an unshaken desire to see African countries such as South Africa become the ‘Wakanda’ of the real world”.

I use my songwriting, brand and platform as a means by which I can speak about social justice issues and identity.

Nabeelah Kolia, 30

Nabeelah Kolia, 30

Nabeelah Kolia’s proudest moment was when she became a fellow of the Actuarial Society of South Africa. “It felt like all the countless hours of studying and 16 board exams had culminated in that very moment,” she says. From winning awards to becoming the newly elected president of the Association of South African Black Actuarial Professionals, Kolia wants to lead the charge for change in South Africa’s actuarial profession so it reflects the country’s demographics. “I’ve been given the responsibility of transforming the actuarial profession – this is an opportunity for me to make a difference and ensure that gender transformation is at the forefront.” Kolia waits for no one. She believes in asking for opportunities, as “the worst thing that can happen is that you are told no”. “Search for daily opportunities to make a difference,” says Kolia, whose passion is developing and empowering people, particularly those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.

One thing that drives me to excel is the smiles on my clients faces when I assist them. I love my job; I love working with people and communities.

Mhlengi Ngcobo, 26

Mhlengi Ngcobo, 26

Mhlengi Ngcobo has built his love for coffee into a business that empowers. At Stellenbosch University, where he studied civil engineering and completed a small business management certificate, Ngcobo began developing the concept for CoffeeMM. He hopes to use the business to encourage and inspire other young South Africans to explore the potential of entrepreneurship to create jobs and opportunities for progress. Ngcobo’s strong work ethic emerged at the age of 16, when he made an active mental shift that took him from one of the lowest-performing students to the top performer in his class in just five months. This shift taught him that mind over matter is real, if you are willing to put in the work. Since then, he has progressed in leaps and bounds. He was selected for this year’s Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurship programme.

It’s important to be stubborn about your dreams.

Llewelyn Pillay, 30

Llewelyn Pillay, 30

Llewelyn Pillay is the founder and chief executive of Ubunye Africa Construction. His company focuses on delivering quality engineering and construction to its clients and partners, while providing employment, growth opportunities and mentorship to the youth. Through empowering youngsters, Pillay believes we can reduce South Africa’s high unemployment levels. In his professional capacity, Pillay has been lauded for his entrepreneurial acumen and is not a stranger to being recognised as an influential young South African. This recognition has given him the ability and scope to galvanise change in his industry — namely, to encourage gender equity in the field of engineering. His hope is that we can move engineering and construction away from being a male-dominated environment and instead create a space for women that pays them as much as their male counterparts.

Believe in yourself and bear in mind that your dreams are within reach.

Nicho Gosebo, 31

Nicho Gosebo, 31

Lagos, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Paris are but a few places that Nicho Gosebo called home during his early twenties. After a jet-setting early career, he now resides in Heidelberg, Germany, where he manages the technical side of his employer’s telecommunications offerings. When his three-person team is not catering to an extensive list of network-operator clients in the sub-Saharan region, he is either chipping away at his master of business administration degree, through the University of the Witswatersrand, or serving on the advisory board of the Agang Africa Network. The non-profit organisation aims to empower women on the continent through e-commerce. Gosebo has much hope for the growth of South Africa’s technological industry, a process in which he hopes to play a part with his own Kudu Business Solutions. The micro-financing outfit bankrolls start-ups that would otherwise struggle to find favour with traditional investors.

I want all LGBTQI+ people to be free and not be questioned about their sexuality.

Mulalo Nemataheni, 30

Mulalo Nemataheni, 30

In founding ImPowerX Advisory Services, Mulalo Nemataheni achieved her goal of starting her own business. Asked about her proudest moment on this journey, she says: “Receiving our financial service provider licence in March 2021, and thus being authorised to provide advice and intermediary services for our clients.” Nemataheni is driven by a passion to transform South Africa into a financially literate nation. She advises: “Do what makes you happy. Your career choice, and all you do, should revolve around your own happiness. Always be open to trying out new things, and invest in experiences. Do not limit yourself.” Being a successful entrepreneur at a relatively early age leaves room for many more achievements. When asked about her vision for the future, Nemataheni says she wants to help build a country where black tax is an issue of the past and people are empowered to be economically active.

The narrative you listen to or choose will determine your level of success, in both your personal life and career.

JC Steyn, 21

JC Steyn, 21

JC Steyn is a Bedfordview-based entrepreneur in his final year of study at the University of Pretoria. His primary business, Summarize, caters to students across faculties and year levels. He and his team create notes and tutoring material for them. “I then market and sell these to thousands of other students across the country,” he says. Steyn is also a partner at Vivid E-Scape, an online aquarium retailer. His podcast, The Ground Floor, has hosted guests ranging from comedian Schalk Bezuidenhout to activist Zulaikha Patel. His advice? “Never be the smartest person in the room … I make it a point to spend as much time as possible with people who have achieved things I haven’t accomplished yet. I don’t really believe in mentorship or coaching, but I do believe in keeping the constant company of those more successful than you. It’ll push and motivate you.”

Take a chance, girl. That burning desire in your heart will not disappear.

Fezile Dhlamini-Mapela, 29

Fezile Dhlamini-Mapela, 29

Fezile Dhalmini-Mapela is not one to dwell on mistakes, saying: “All decisions I make are calculated and there has never been an element of regret with each one made. There are lessons I have taken from the 190-plus rejections received over the past five years. These rejections have fuelled me to be a great entrepreneur.” That’s not a claim easily disputed, with Dhalmini-Mapela founding three companies. Green Scooter is an automotive company manufacturing electric vehicles. Scooter Treats is a food delivery marketplace connecting the disconnected with scooter services between Soweto and Alexandra. Nokwe Digital is his agency focusing on specialised marketing services. As for motivation? The 29-year-old laughs off the question, explaining: “I know that I am too far in now. It is too late. I jumped off a cliff and have been building a plane going down. In the words of 50 Cent: ‘Get rich or die tryin.’”

My proudest moment comes every time I inspire people to be better when they look at me.

Charita van der Berg, 34

Charita van der Berg, 34

For Charita van der Berg, it’s simple: anticipate change, adapt, create new methods in response to the change, and teach it to the community. Leaving the comfort zone of a set monthly income, she went on to start Media Beat – an agency that helps local radio stations grow through training or consulting, bringing in revenue, assisting with infrastructure or simply content creation. On top of all this, she’s successfully mentoring young South Africans pursuing a career in radio, watching them become influencers in their own right. Giving up is not an option, she says. “Even if you don’t get the validation that you think you need, the only validation that you need is your own.” Van der Berg is using her voice to address the social gap in the media landscape. She does this by upskilling young people and creating sustainable community radio.

My proudest moment comes every time I inspire people to be better when they look at me.

Lilitha Mahlati, 33

Lilitha Mahlati, 33

Formal training as an investment banker helps Lilitha Mahlati guide the enterprises she’s involved in to financial success. She’s the cofounder and managing director of Ivili Loboya, a 100% black women-owned wool and cashmere manufacturing facility in the Eastern Cape. It’s Africa’s first cashmere production facility, sourcing sheep and goat hair from farmers across South Africa and using it to create various products for global markets. These include knitted clothes and textiles, as well as products for further industrial processing. She enjoys having a positive impact on her employees and their community, as well as the farmers in their supply chain, and is proud to be converting raw materials into high-quality South African products that are appreciated across the globe. Mahlati also sits on the board of several companies that are trying to transform South Africa. She’s also a founder of the Black Founders Forum, which aims to create a more supportive environment for black entrepreneurs.

My proudest moment has been coming out and realising that being gay does not define me but being true to oneself is where we can all find our power.

Ngoako Thupana, 25

Ngoako Thupana, 25

Having an entrepreneurial spirit and experience as the head of his own company, Ngoako Thupana uses his skills to mentor budding entrepreneurs on their journey to success. Shortly after completing his national diploma in entrepreneurship at the Tshwane University of Technology in July 2020, Thupana created Kenter Holdings. The company breeds and sells broiler chickens to local restaurants, and also acts as a mentoring organisation aimed at inspiring and upskilling members of the local community. Thupana also works with Capitec as a customer-facing representative – a bank better champion – who helps to improve the customer service aspect of Capitec’s retail banking division. After starting more than 20 businesses before succeeding, Thupana knows the power of perseverance. This is just one of the lessons that he imparts to the people who are positively affected by the work that he and Kenter are engaged in.

Don’t be scared to do things you feel passionate about, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.

Nadine Arnold, 32

Nadine Arnold, 32

Having joined Rain as an early-stage employee, Nadine Arnold has been integral to the growth of South Africa’s data-only telecommunications start-up and Africa’s first commercial 5G operator. Being a key player in Rain’s growth, Arnold recognises the impact the internet has on all levels of society, and believes technology opens up a world of opportunities for individuals to tap in to unrealised potential. Building on this foundation, Arnold joined as cofounder of Junior Think Tanks, a platform born out of the desire to empower young people and equip them with the skills that they need to succeed in an evolving world. Arnold’s main goal is to help young people develop a skill set that will enable them to thrive in any environment and to raise the next generation of innovators and change-makers. Arnold encourages South Africa’s youth to be bold and to start now with whatever they have in any small way that they can.

It is never too early or late to follow your dreams.

Batlile Phaladi, 32

Batlile Phaladi, 32

Helping women to build resilience is something Batlile Phaladi does well because of her own experience in the corporate world. In her early career, she would quit if things got tough, but after being mentored by her elders in the Shoprite Group, she learned that challenges enable you to grow and learn new skills. Phaladi is part of the team that manages Shoprite’s online reputation, ensuring that the brand is held in high esteem. As a sideline, she set up Rammy Creatives, a manufacturing company, to fund her siblings’ education. Now that all four siblings are working professionals, she uses the profit she makes to buy sports equipment and school uniforms for children whose parents are unemployed. She also runs @conversations_with_bookworms on Instagram, reviewing empowering books for women to help prevent them from quitting if pressure mounts. “They engage with the blog about how they are starting their businesses and using a positive approach,” she says.

I make it a point to spend as much time as possible with people who have achieved things I haven’t accomplished yet.

Diketso Setho, 24

Diketso Setho, 24

Diketso Setho is a self-taught IT programmer. He says his childhood struggles have never deterred his spirit to understand information technology and mingle with the crème de la crème of the digital world. As the founder of GH Mall, an online shopping portal, Setho has given township businesses the opportunity to sell their products online, creating a space where people are able to support local businesses online and hassle-free. He says the biggest surprise of his journey so far is “being able to inspire a lot of people when they find out that I am a self-taught coder with no qualifications, teaching coding and creating new start-ups without funding”. Setho’s ambition is to disrupt the status quo so that South Africans can become computer literate and benefit more from the digital revolution.

Even the smaller lessons come in handy later in life, so never discount the value of their experiences.

Miso Nhlangulela, 33

Miso Nhlangulela, 33

During her time in the corporate sector, Miso Nhlangulela lent her talents to the spheres of recruitment, business development and marketing. The Durban native opted to focus on the latter when embracing her entrepreneurial flair. She put her commerce degree to different use and founded her own digital marketing outfit, JayBerry Consulting. The agency offers its clientele marketing, advertising, videography and web-design services. Nhlangulela’s diverse experience in the business world drives her to impart the knowledge she has acquired to others, which finds her featuring regularly as a speaker and moderator at events and symposiums both locally and abroad. Outside of business, she has a keen interest in women, youth development and leadership, which manifests in her work as cofounding director of Ubuntu Bama Afrika. The foundation provides content for education, skills and entrepreneurial development with a youth-oriented and digital media slant.

Being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak, being aware of your vulnerabilities and working towards self-love and self-care is what makes you strong .

Charl Reyneke, 27

Charl Reyneke, 27

Charl Reyneke wants to see a world where everyone has the opportunity to escape poverty. It’s something he is taking steps to realise through his side projects, Heartflow NPC and its Cheese app. Reyneke cofounded the company as a result of his personal conflicts about giving money to beggars on the streets of Stellenbosch, where he lives. When he gave money, he was bothered by watching the same people engaging in destructive behaviour, but when he didn’t, his conscience wouldn’t let him rest. By building the Cheese app, his aim was to create an alternative for those who want to help the needy in a way that preserves mutual respect and dignity for all involved. Heartflow NPC manages a coupon system and pioneers innovative service models in order to ensure that homeless people retain their dignity. Cheese connects users to non-profit organisations like shelters so they can directly better someone’s life through the app.

Seek truth and significance over success.

Milisa Mabinza, 29

Milisa Mabinza, 29

As the managing director of Khula Lula private equity fund, Milisa Mabinza’s mission is to build a generational legacy. She says: “Khula Lula was not only my dream, but it was the dream of my late father, my grandmothers and the forefathers that came before me. I have learnt to build on the efforts of those who made sacrifices to keep on setting higher ceilings for myself, my family and my community.” Mabinza graduated from the University of Johannesburg with an honours in investment management and started Khula Lula in 2019. Her business provides funds for start-ups owned by black women. When asked what her proudest moment is, she says: “I won awards in university when I participated in University of Johannesburg’s innovative Business Idea Awards and Project Alpha Competition, and none match up to the joy I’ve had in finally seeing the vision of Khula Lula through.”

I want to leave an impact on South Africa where literature reflects the ordinary lives of people living in the townships and rural areas.

Bontle Tshole, 29

Bontle Tshole, 29

Bontle Tshole has a simple job: she is building a brand. After completing her honours in psychology at the University of South Africa, she started her first business, Baaa Health, in 2017. Shortly after that, in 2020, Tshole cofounded the bespoke furniture manufacturer Legae. “Have dreams, make a plan, but always remember to live in the moment you have been given,” she says — a positive mind-set always at the centre of her success. She sees mistakes not as failures, but as opportunities for learning and growth. Together with her mother and business partner, Tshole is working to create a future where healthy food and healthy habits are no longer a novelty, but rather an easily accessible lifestyle choice available to everyone. Motivated by the possibilities of what lies ahead, she continues working towards growing her businesses for herself and to also be an example for entrepreneurially minded businesspeople.

It takes a lot more than just talent to succeed: you need a plan, determination, willingness to sacrifice and hard work.

Adam Collier, 32

Adam Collier, 32

Adam Collier’s first bite at entrepreneurship came before his 20th birthday and mostly amounted to a life lesson in the importance of careful planning and strategic thought. He followed up a commerce honours degree from the University of the Witwatersrand with a master of business administration from the African Leadership University School of Business, ultimately qualifying as a chartered management accountant. He skipped the finance career altogether and gave entrepreneurship another shot, better prepared and with a view to fill the market’s dearth of quality vocational training. This is the innovative purpose of BluLever, an educational enterprise that focuses on the fostering and development of artisanal trade skills. Collier is determined for trades to be viewed as promising career choices for young people, and looks to provide a platform to equip them with the tools to make that possible.

I wake up every morning knowing that if I don’t work towards making myself a better person or work at making those around me happier, it’s going to be a wasted day.

Nobuhle Ndlovu, 31

Nobuhle Ndlovu, 31

Armed with an MBA in finance from the Said Business School in Oxford among other qualifications, Nobuhle Ndlovu’s work includes investing in economies, growing businesses and building sustainable business ecosystems.
“I want to see more job creation and a more equitable society. I believe thriving businesses are the cornerstone of this,” she says. “I’m proud of myself knowing I’m making a positive difference to those around me and in my country.”
Her advice to her younger self? Work hard, and own it. “There’s no greater joy than realising that you’ve done 100% of the work that got you where you are. Actually, the biggest surprise to me is that you can do good and get paid for it.” Ndlovu is a firm believer in trying out as many things as possible. “It’s a great way to realise your Ikigai (purpose) faster,” she says.

Time spent towards improving health, sustaining relationships and pursuing passions will actually aid in building a sustainable work ethic.

Bohlale Buzani, 24

Bohlale Buzani, 24

As a social entrepreneur and development practitioner, Bohlale Buzani believes that young people should have an opportunity to participate in a meaningful economy and cocreate it from grassroots level. In his work, he turned an illegal dump site into an entrepreneurial ecosystem for five youth-owned businesses. He also continuously advocates for young people to be a priority in the allocation of the local budget in his ward. Along with the work Buzani does in his community, he is also a Mandela Washington Fellow. “I was born for a purpose, which is to uproot and dismantle all systems and policies that prevent people from becoming who they are meant to be. This is what wakes me up at 2am and leaves me pondering our future as young people,” he says. He hopes to create better ownership of the economy through his work.

I would love to witness a South Africa that fully lives by its collective worldview of ubuntu, by embracing, supporting and lending a helping hand to those who are in need, in any way possible.

Masabata Sebusi, 25

Masabata Sebusi, 25

According to Masabata Sebusi, her professional journey has been quite surprising. By adapting to changes she didn’t expect, she has become the cofounder of an agribusiness that helps smallholder farmers take better advantage of business opportunities, be more tech savvy and ultimately become more involved in local and global markets. Since attaining her BCom in accounting from the University of the Free State, Sebusi has learnt that the best way to success lies in collaboration and not assuming you have to do everything yourself. By realising that she can’t be perfect, she has been able to ensure that every day is a fruitful learning experience. She has been able to take advantage of opportunities and keeps growing. She hopes that through her work, she will inspire others to take the leap of faith required to start a business, embrace change or pick themselves up after any failure

Critical thinking is the real key to success, no matter your path.

Tshiamo Ramalepa, 30

Tshiamo Ramalepa, 30

Besides having a full-time job as a nursing lecturer at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), supervising master’s students and being part of a nursing research committee, Tshiamo Ramalepa still finds time for his other passion — soccer.

Ramalepa holds a master’s degree in nursing and his PhD thesis — which he submitted for examination in May — is in the field of reproductive health. He submitted his final thesis for his PhD just a month after he turned 30, fulfilling a personal goal to obtain a PhD at 30, a proud moment in his life.

Another of his proudest moments stems from a different aspect of his busy life: managing the Brits Soccer Academy, where he is also a coach. Last year, Ramalepa led 15 boys from the Brits Soccer Academy to Manchester, England to participate in the English Super Cup. The team came back with silver medals from their first European tour.

Ramalepa also runs his own sports company, called Zone 45 Sports. The company not only organises soccer tournaments, development programmes and scouts for talent, but also assists soccer players to get into university. For the 2021 academic year he has assisted seven soccer players who will be studying at the University of Johannesburg and Tshwane University of Technology.

“I want to see more soccer players enrolling and completing higher education qualifications, while they chase their unpredictable soccer dreams,” he says.

His goal is to see more underprivileged young people getting any post-school qualification that they can use as a stepping stone to achieve a university qualification in order to secure their future.